Starcade: Dragon’s Lair

In a recent Twitch stream, Mike was talking about Nick Arcade.  And he says, “People always talk about Nick Arcade but I’m old as fuck so I remember Starcade.”  He then goes on about what a great show Starcade was.

I think that he says all of this in this stream but I don’t have the timestamp.  So you’ll just have to watch all nine hours to find it.  I think it’s somewhere in the first half, if that helps.

I’m two years older than Mike and I never even heard of this shit until recently, when I was DuckDuckGoing old tv shows about video games.

So let’s check Wikipedia.  

It ran from 1982 to 1984.  Mike would have been between the ages of two and four.  Really?  He was watching this as a four year old?  And he has memories of this?

It was also on TBS.  How many people had TBS in 1984?  How many people had cable?  I think that I did because I don’t remember ever not having cable but I don’t fucking remember what was happening when I was four years old.  Or even six years old.  

So it was only on for two years, it was on cable (in what I think are the early days of cable), and he was no older than four years old.

Fucking bullshit.  If he was watching this show, it was while sitting on a pile of shit in his diapers.  Why make up *nostalgia*?  Erin is really a bad influence on him.

Anyway, it’s on Youtube.  Let’s check it out.  I chose the Dragon’s Lair episode because unless you know how to play the game, it’s going to be some frustrating bullshit.  No way are some kids going to figure this out on the first attempt.

2:00 – Oh.  The host says that the contestants had a chance to play the game before the show.  Hopefully, it was extensively.

3:00 – I’m surprised that they were able to show such gore on television.

Then they introduce some Dragon’s Lair pro.  He’s going to be playing the game just to show how it’s done.

So while that’s happening, Rick, one of the contestants is playing the game.  He’s trying to get the high score in 60 seconds.  But is this even a suitable game for that?  Wouldn’t everyone who hits the buttons at the right time achieve the same score after 60 seconds?

5:00 – We’ll find out because now it’s Marisa’s turn.  Unless she fucks up, it should be the same score, right?  

She’s doing a completely different path.  Is that how the game works?  You can go on different paths?

I don’t even know who won.  They didn’t say.  

This is a terrible game to watch, by the way.  It’s boring as fuck and you don’t know what’s going on.

Oh what?  Their scores in the game show are the same as their scores from the arcade game.  So Marisa has 11,441 points and Rick has 6,664 points.

This can’t possibly work.  Because they also were asked a trivia question earlier and you got 100 points for getting that question right.  That’s totally worthless.  

And obviously, different games have different scoring systems.  Are they carefully weighing all of this?  of course not.  They’re cranking this shit out as fast as they can.  

7:30 – Another 100 point question.  Who gives a fuck?  These questions are meaningless.  Rick can get the next 47 questions right and he still won’t catch up.  All that seems to matter is the fucking gameplay.  And they both get a chance to play the game.  So just get on with it.  Fuck these worthless questions.

8:00 – Mike gets the question right but who gives a fuck?  This scoring system is just so bad.  It was the same with Nick Arcade.  Nobody sat down and tried to figure things out.  It was just, “We have a show to do.  The only people who are watching this shit are four year olds like Mike Matei, who gives a fuck?”

9:00 – What?  They’re just playing the game again from the beginning.  They just fucking did this.

But…this is now a third path.  Are they really playing this from the beginning or is it a different path each time?  I don’t really know how Dragon’s Lair works.  I played it once, briefly, and then never again.

If they’re on different paths every time, like in different parts of the game…I mean…of course they’re going to be getting different point totals.  This isn’t fair.

Oh.  Now he seems to be on a path that was done before.  I don’t know what’s going on.

But imagine how clueless people in 1984 must have been.  Most of the people watching have probably never played the game.  They didn’t know anything about it.  Why is it just one random screen after another?  What exactly is the person doing to control the action?  If anything.

And Mike is sitting there with stool in his pants enjoying every minute of this.

10:00 – I don’t know.  Rick got a good score, I think.  Now it’s Marisa’s turn.  

The host seems to be suggesting that there are different “screens” on each playthrough.  So that would explain the different paths that I was referring to.  It must be somewhat randomised.

11:30 – So I think that’s the game over.  Marisa got 23,850 points and Rick got 20,616.  That includes the two times that they each played Dragon’s Lair and of course the all important 200 points that Rick got for answering two trivia questions correctly.

And I just realised something.  Aside from the 100 points for answering a question correctly, you also get to go first when playing the arcade game.  Why is that an advantage?  You should want to go SECOND so that you can see what mistakes the other person makes.  It’s all just so poorly conceived.

Marisa goes on to like the bonus round.

Host: We know that you know your Dragon’s Lair but how well do you know your video games?

Marisa: Umm…pretty good.

I’ll reserve judgement.  She did win, after all.

12:00 – One of the prizes she can win is a Bionic Chair.  This is like…an early “gaming” chair.  There’s a foot stool and everything.  It’s supposed to be ergonomic, I guess.  You can prop your knees up to a suitable level to put a joystick on your lap.  Or something.  I can’t find much on the internet about it.  Just this blog post from 2012 which references Starcade:

12:15 – You can also win a metal detector.  Yeah, I guess it’s something that nerds used to do.  I don’t know.  If you’re from a rural area, you might get more use out of it.  And people would go to the beach with this shit, I guess.

What?  That’s the grand prize?  A metal detector?  

The company is still in business, apparently.  You can get a newer model on Amazon for $200.

I used to watch Youtube videos of a guy who used a metal detector.  He showed off his collection a few times.  It was just trash.  Trash in a shadow box.  I stopped watching once he started quoting bibles verses at the end of each episode.  If you’re high on Jesus, that’s cool.  I’m not here to shit on anyone’s beliefs.  But what the fuck does this have to do with metal detecting?  

Holy shit.  You have to identify games.  “Is that Yamato or Rescue?”

I never even heard of these.  But she got it right.  

“Is that Solar Fox or Sky Lancer?”

This is insane.  Who would know this shit?  I never heard of these either.

She got that one right too.

“Buck Rogers or Zaxxon”

Well, I know this one.  Or at least I know that it’s not Zaxxon.  I didn’t know that Buck Rogers ever got a game.

She got that one right too.  That Bionic Chair is already hers.  Now for that sweet metal detector.  It call comes down to this.

“Swimmer or Pirate Pete?”

This is bullshit.  Who would know this?  Would ever have heard of these games?  

Maybe these were big in 1984 and just became lost to obscurity in time.  Or maybe I’m just not a suitably big retro gaming enthusiast.

She got that one right too.  So that metal detector is hers.  I wonder if she gets the chair too.  I’d intentionally blow the final question if you get the metal detector instead of the chair.

Oh fuck.  I think that it is just the metal detector.  That sucks.

14:00 – Oh, the game isn’t over.  That was just like a midway bonus round.

So another worthless 100 point question.

Then it’s the same thing where they play Dragon’s Lair.  But only for 40 seconds now instead of 50.  Weird.

This is just RNG.  You go on different paths purely at random.  I think.  And some paths give more points than others.  They might as well have just flipped a coin to decide who’s going to win the game.

They even acknowledge this.  Rick didn’t die once.  I don’t think that Marisa did either.  This is a totally shit game to use for this.  

Anyway, nice perm for Rick.  So he’s a winner too.

But Marisa is the real winner so she’s going to compete for her own Dragon’s Lair “video arcade game”.  They didn’t say “cabinet” in 1984.

Oh, but she also won a SpectraVideo computer.  You get a 5.25″ disc drive and everything.  

So to win, she has to beat the average score of like 100 people who played Dragon’s Lair.  That’s a sensible way to do it.  For once.  For the first time in this game, they’re doing something that actually makes sense.

That mid-point bonus game was also sensible, I guess.

But first, they show footage of that pro Dragon’s Lair player beating the game.  His name is Mike Russo.

21:00 – And then a PAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAINFUL interaction between this uber nerd Mike Russo and Marisa.  He can’t even pronounce her name.  And he’s nervous as fuck.  And he says that he has a Dragon’s Lair t-shirt that he’ll be holding for her for good luck.  

He then stands over her shoulder and watches her play the game.

Marisa doesn’t achieve the requisite score because of RNG.

So that’s the show.  Afterwards, Mike Russo asked Marisa if she wants to go to Dairy Queen some time.  Marisa said that she’d love to but she’s busy that day.

So that was Mike Matei’s favourite show from the ages of 2 to 4.  And he remembers this all vividly.  

– “Dragon’s Lair used to cost a dollor to play at the arcade. I was always too cheap to want to give up 4 game plays to play one game. When you did play, you got killed almost instantly.”

Yeah, this is all true.  Although, it was 50 cents at the bowling alley I saw it at.  One dollar is insane.

– “you have zero control over how fast the game plays. Your only option is to press the correct direction or action button at the right time. She had zero chance of beating that score with the scenes that popped up. The guy had the same scenes earlier and achieved the exact same score in the allowed 30 seconds.”

This was part of a long discussion about why Dragon’s Lair is a poor choice to use for this game.  It confirms what I was saying.

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